At my old storage unit, I used to be able to gauge what time of the year it was by the volume of mud, flies and excrement. I became resigned to the mud, gradually accepting that washing my car was a completely futile task. But I never got used to the flies.
For some reason, my car was a fly-magnet and on some days I counted over 50, before giving up in despair. Whenever I opened the car door, several flies would sneak inside and hide, waiting until I'd reached a critical speed on the journey home. I nearly crashed on several occasions, trying to steer with one hand and swat with the other.
My new premises appear to be fly and mud-free. Also, I can now watch the seasons change. This is how the view has altered during the last few weeks:
I'm looking forward to having my lunch breaks by the lake.
During today's trip to work, I found a collection of the Photography Year Book from the late 1950s and early 60s.
As a schoolboy I used to avidly pour through copies of these at the local library (mainly because they contained photographs of naked ladies), but hadn't looked at one for years. I'd forgotten how each collection had the same recurring subjects.
Here are a few of those themes:
1. The Still Life:
I didn't like them when I was 13. I'm not that keen now, although I've learned that if I'm with people in a gallery, I must say something positive about the "form" and "composition" rather than risk exposing myself as a complete philistine. "I like the interplay between the horizontal and verticle leaves..."
2. The Very Wrinkled Old Person:
There was a time when no widow in an Italian hill town could safely go to confession without being assailed by a photographer, who would then bundle her into a pensione
and take a series of unflattering portraits. As much as I like the lined face and knowing eyes, it has become something of a cliché.
3. The Naked Lady Landscape Shot:
Yes, it's a nude woman. But she's imitating a natural feature on a beach or in a national park and she's not wearing saucy underwear, so this is a serious photograph. Isn't it?
4. The Special Effects Study:
They say "I achieved this effect by using a 200mm lense at f/5 and a halogen flash at a shutter speed of 1/4..."
and all I can think is, was it worth it? Trees at night-time.
5. Some People in a Third World Country:
These pictures were a doddle, once you'd convinced the subjects that the camera wasn't stealing their souls.
The people would either be naked or wearing outlandish clothing, so a successful photograph was almost guaranteed. These days, you'll have to ask the subjects to removed their Nike t-shirts for a few minutes.
6. A Picture of an Animal:
You may say that it's just a picture of a sparrow in the grass, but apparently it's good enough to be published.
Perhaps sparrows are hard to photograph.
8. A Photograph of Anything, As Long As It Features a Nun:
Beyond the usual themes of nuns, nudity, abstract compositions and old people I found a few pictures that I really liked. Here is a small selection:
Nurses praying? I'm very relieved that none of my nurses had to turn to prayer when I was in hospital a couple of months ago.
I enjoyed looking at the work of so many gifted photographers, but what struck me most was how commonplace the exotic images of Chinese peasants, African tribeswomen and Arab nomads appeared, while the once mundane pictures of British miners and city gents in bowler hats seemed extraordinary. How times have changed.